Summaries of the basic issues in the climate debate…
Ideas to shape our personal stories (revised and updated)
We all live by story. We embrace a story that gives us inspiration and guides our thinking, feeling, and responses/behavior. Our stories help us understand and explain life to ourselves and to others. And we create our personal story/worldview with features that we take from the larger stories of the history of the world, from the history of nations (mainly our own nations), and from the stories of religious and philosophical traditions, as well as ideologies. We take from all these sources to define our personal stories. Our stories are also influenced by our parents, peers, teachers, and other public figures. All of these give us ideas/themes that we then use to shape our personal worldviews and our stories.
Unfortunately, the story themes that still dominate the thinking of many people today are from the narratives of religious traditions that have embraced some of the worst ideas from humanity’s primitive past, primitive ideas that are no longer credible. For example, themes like the tribal division of humanity into classes of true believers versus unbelievers, the divine validation for domination of others (i.e. gods as Lords, Kings, Masters), and the divine validation of punitive, destroying justice (i.e. Hell myths).
Religious narratives have dominated human consciousness across history and still do. Note the 85% of humanity that still affiliates with the world religions and therefore hold religious worldviews. And many of the remaining 15% of the world population have simply shifted to “secular” versions of the same old story themes. We see the ongoing domination of primitive religious themes in modern ideologies like Declinism and its offspring- environmental alarmism or Green religion.
My point? The themes that we embrace to guide our stories have consequences for us and others- both good and bad. The ideas that we hold influence our thinking, feeling, response and behavior- for good and bad. Varied old story themes are now widely recognized as inhumane. Take apocalyptic as an example. Accumulated research shows that it has had a destructive influence across history (e.g. Richard Landes, Heaven On Earth). Yet many continue to believe that mental pathology of life declining toward disastrous collapse and ending.
Apocalyptic alarmists work their damage by terrorizing populations that life is under some exaggerated threat of collapse and ending. The apocalyptic-scale threats over the past 70 years have often been environmental with ‘climate change’ as the latest version of looming apocalypse. And like prophets of old, alarmists repeatedly set dates for the end-of-days. The latest? 2030. These modern-day apocalyptic prophets have to repeatedly push the dates back, resetting them again and again because the apocalypse never arrives. It is a false narrative of life.
Once populations have been alarmed, then the apocalyptic prophets offer a salvation scheme that involves purging their purported threat- in the case of climate alarmists, the evil enemy or threat to be purged is CO2 and, more generally, industrial civilization. Only when the threat is purged can there be salvation and restoration of what alarmists claim was a lost paradise that existed before humanity ruined the world.
The salvation scheme of “decarbonization” has already harmed the poorest people with rising energy/electricity costs. Further damage is yet to come as the hysteria to decarbonize continues.
We are responsible for the ideas that we choose to embrace, and for their outcomes. We are responsible to pick and choose the best ideas/themes to shape our stories, and to make changes where needed. We can do better. We have new story themes, much better alternatives.
Here is a short version of old and new story themes. Many of the old story themes below are behind the apocalyptic element in environmentalism. They are old mythical/religious themes that have been given new “secular” expression in climate alarmism.
A shortened list of Old Narrative themes, New Story alternatives– Wendell Krossa
These are some of the most influential ideas that have shaped human stories across history.
Qualifier: Many of the themes below deal with “spiritual” realities. A note to hard-core materialist types who want to “Get rid of all this metaphysical bullshit”:
Across history, the vast majority of people have speculated on spiritual issues and unfortunately, some very bad ideas have shaped people’s spiritual speculations. So, at a minimum, offer people better alternatives. This site engages such speculation because spiritual realities have always been fundamental to the human impulse for meaning. And too much speculation is shaped by primitive myths that have had a harmful influence on people. I would offer people better alternatives, while acknowledging that it is speculation. Just have your own criteria and reasons to back your personal speculation.
The intention here is freedom from fear. Liberating human consciousness from unnecessary or baseless fear. Fear of monsters that have never existed except in minds dominated by distorting mythology.
See the more detailed version of this list further below in the section “Four Main Essays”. My thanks to Bob Brinsmead for input on the varied themes below.
1. Old story theme: The myth of deity as a judging, punishing reality. This primitive “threat theology” has long defined the very core of all reality, the creating God behind all reality. Contemporary “secular” versions include “vengeful Gaia”, retributive Universe, “angry planet/Mother Earth”, and payback karma. This ‘worst of all bad ideas’- i.e. a retaliatory, punitive core reality- has shaped human justice systems to be punitive in orientation.
New story alternative: God as no conditions love. There is no such thing as “threat theology”. There is only a stunningly inexpressible Love at the core of all reality. This orients justice to restorative approaches.
2. Old story theme: There was a perfect beginning to life (i.e. original paradise, Eden, or “the past was better”).
New story alternative: Life began in chaotic imperfection but has gradually improved across the history of the world, becoming more organized, complex and dynamic.
3. Old Story theme: Humanity began as perfect but became corrupted (“fell into sinfulness”) and now deserves to be punished. “Secular” versions of the fallen humanity myth include the belief in the ‘Noble savage’ of pre-civilization that has become corrupted in human civilization. Other contemporary versions of fallen/sinful humanity include environmental myths of humanity as the “cancer/virus” on the planet, the illegitimate and unwanted intruder. This mythical theme feeds a virulent anti-humanism that devalues and even despises humanity.
New story alternative: Humanity has not fallen or become corrupted but has emerged from the brutality/imperfectness of animal existence to become ever more humane over history. The gradual improvement of humanity across history is evidence of the essential goodness of humanity that has been emerging, developing, and expressing itself. This essential human goodness foreshadows a revolution in human self-imaging. This alternative is an affirmation of the wonder of being human despite our imperfections.
4. Old story theme: Since the loss of the original paradise, life has been on a declining, degenerating trajectory. This theme feeds the life-denying fatalism and resignation that rejects the full engagement necessary to improve this world.
New story alternative: The long-term trajectory of life shows that with creative human input there is improvement toward something ever better. Volumes of good evidence affirm the “true state of life” as a rising/improving trajectory over the long-term (e.g. Julian Simon’s ‘Ultimate Resource’, Bjorn Lomborg’s ‘Skeptical Environmentalist’, Indur Goklany’s ‘The Improving State of the World’, and others). This alternative affirms hope to fully embrace and celebrate life as we struggle to improve it.
5. Old story theme: The myth that natural disasters, disease, human cruelty, and death are expressions of divine punishment. This adds the unnecessary psychic burden of fear, anxiety, guilt, and shame to already unbearable physical suffering. Paul tormented the Corinthians with this argument that their sicknesses and deaths were punishment from God for their sins. This would be my choice for the single worst of all bad ideas in history- that unfortunate events in life are divine punishment for human sin.
New story alternative: While there are natural and social consequences all through life, there is no punitive, destroying deity behind the imperfections of life. Ultimately there is only Love at the core of reality (see alternatives below on the relationship of Love to freedom and randomness in life).
6. Old story theme: Humanity has been rejected by the Creator. We are separated from our Source.
New story alternative: No one has ever been separated from the ‘no conditions Love’ at the core of reality. No one needs to be reconciled or “saved”. All are safe in the end. Everyone returns safely to infinite Love.
7. Old story theme: The myth of a cosmic dualism between a Good Spirit and an opposing Bad Force/Spirit (i.e. the Zoroastrian dualism that shaped our modern religions and worldviews). Belief in cosmic dualism has subsequently influenced the affirmation of human dualisms. People are taught to view humanity as tribally divided with dualisms of good people versus bad people or enemies. People are then obligated to join and become loyal to the right tribe or true religion, in opposition to their “enemies” in other tribes or “false” religions.
New story alternative: We all come from the same Oneness and there are no fundamental tribal divisions of humanity, only the pseudo-ones that we create around religion, nationality, ethnicity/race, ideology, etc. Humanity is one family.
8. Old story theme: The myth of a violent, destroying God that threatens the total destruction of the world in an apocalypse. This idea derives from early Greek views of this world as a corrupted realm that should be rejected. Later Hebrew ideas added that this corrupted world should face catastrophic destruction in order to make way for a new world (Mendel in Vision and Violence).
New story alternative: Despite the problems in our imperfect world (i.e. natural and human violence) there is no threat of a violent deity enacting a final destruction and ending of the world.
9. Old story theme: The hope for instant transformation of the world through a violent purging of evil that will enable humanity to attain some utopia.
New story alternative: Life gradually improves through human struggle with imperfect social and environmental situations. See Arthur Mendel’s ‘Vision and Violence’ for detail on the “gradualism” of historical improvement, versus the escapist utopian demands for “instantaneous transformation”. Instantaneous transformation beliefs have shaped the violent purging movements of Marxism, Nazism, and now influence varied environmental extremism movements (i.e. the push today for rushed decarbonization).
10. Old story theme: The demand for a salvation plan/sacrifice.
New story alternative: God as no conditions love makes no demand for payment or sacrifice (no required atonement, appeasement, or payback). Divine forgiveness and love are freely given to all alike. God is a true unconditional universalist.
11. Old story theme: The belief that retributive punishment is true justice.
New story alternative: Unconditional Love keeps no record of wrongs but forgives freely and without limit (seventy times seven). It embraces restorative justice toward all (no eye for eye but sun and rain given generously to all, to both good and bad).
(Qualifier: Ultimate unconditional reality does not lessen the need to hold all responsible for the natural and social consequences of their behavior in this life.)
12. Old story theme: The threat of future or after-life judgment and punishment- humanity’s primal fear.
New story alternative: Everyone is safe in the end. The unconditional Love at the core of reality, inclusively and universally embraces all, both good and bad. And self-judgment is the worst form of judgment and punishment. It is the only ultimate judgment and punishment (i.e. the “Life review” of Near-Death Experiences).
13. Old story theme: The myth of a hero-messiah who uses superior force to conquer all.
New story alternative: God as love does not intervene, overwhelm, or dominate free others. Authentic love respects the freedom of all. God honors individual self-determination.
14. Old story theme: The fallacy of Biblicism, that religious holy books are special forms of writing and authority.
New story alternative: All human writings are to be subject to the same evaluating criteria of good/bad, or humane/inhumane. The sacred is not exempt from this process of evaluation.
15. Old story theme: The myth of God as Judge, Ruler, King, or Lord.
New story alternative: There is no domination/subservience relating with authentic love. True divine greatness is to serve, to relate horizontally to all as free equals. God is a common, ordinary street-level reality, not an elitist reality.
16. Old story theme: Humanity obligated to know, serve, and love some invisible reality above humanity.
New story alternative: Our primary loyalty is to love and serve people all around us, where God dwells. There is no need to focus on some vertical religious dimension (i.e. the myth of a “sky God”). We only need to focus on horizontal ‘here and now’ reality in daily, ordinary life where God actually exists.
17. Old story theme: God as absent and silent during disaster and episodes of human cruelty.
New story alternative: God has incarnated in all humanity as the common human spirit/consciousness and is immediately present in all human suffering, in all human raging against evil, and all human effort to make life better. There has never been a “sky God” separate from humanity and existing above in the heavens. God is at our very core, as the human impulse to love, to be something better. God is inseparably united with the love that defines us at our best. God is at the core of the real or authentic human self and is evident in the human impulse to be more humane as expressed in all human goodness.
Conclusion? While we may not be aware of it, God has always been closer to us than our own breath or atoms. God has never been absent or silent when people have suffered from natural disaster or human cruelty. Religious mythology has never framed this immanent feature properly. The immanence of deity speaks to the fundamental “oneness” behind all things. We are all part of the same greater creating and sustaining Consciousness that is deity. Even quantum mechanics points to this foundational oneness reality.
The confusion here over silent deity also has to do with the element of freedom or the inseparable relationship between love and freedom. God as love does not coercively overwhelm the independence, self-determination, and freedom of others. Better- God respects human freedom profoundly and only influences with gentle, quiet impulses to do the right thing, what we feel is right (i.e. God persuades and does not coerce).
Part of the human confusion over how God relates to this world has to do with our inability to grasp that divine Love prizes freedom highly and will not overwhelm or violate it. Authentic moral goodness emerges only from authentic freedom of choice. Such love entails great risk as authentically free people may choose wrongly. The upside is that nothing in life is pre-planned or predestined. We are free to create our own unique story on the fly, to become the heroes of our own life adventure in any way we choose.
18. Added Old Story theme: Holiness mythology
One of the most common responses from religious people to the idea of God as no conditions love is the defensive response that unconditional violates traditional justice as some form of necessary payback or punishment of wrong. Religious people argue that God is holy and just and therefore must punish wrong. God’s honor is tarnished by the wrongdoing of people so he must be just (exhibit strict eye for eye) and punish all sin. God cannot just freely forgive and love.
But this divine holiness myth is primitivism at its worst. How so? It is the very same reasoning that is behind practices like “honor killing”. People in varied cultures today still reason that, for example, a daughter who embraces modern habits has dishonored her family and their traditional culture. So the dishonored males are required to punish the “evil” daughter in order to restore their tarnished honor. Holiness theology is embracing this very same primitive reasoning that wrongs must be punished, or justice and honor are not restored properly.
The holiness feature in theology affirms the myth of God obsessed with perfection and punishing imperfection.
New story alternative: I would counter that unconditional forgiveness and love is the true glory of God, the highest goodness and love. Authentic good and love will just forgive without demanding payment or righting of wrongs first.
And of course, this needs the added qualifier that in this life there are social and natural consequences to all behavior, and it is part of healthy human development to be held responsible for one’s behavior. There is no contradiction here with affirming ultimate divine love as unconditional.
See more detailed list of Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives in sections below (i.e. The Four Main Essays).
More response to Bob’s excellent post below: Wendell Krossa
“I have been using some strong language of recent on this site… “insanity… lunacy” etc. to describe the current alarm over CO2 levels in our atmosphere and the alarmist narrative that this is a threat to life, that it portends some catastrophic collapse and even ending of life (note the endless setting of end-of-days dates by alarmist prophets, 2030 as the latest date for the apocalypse).
“When people demonize the very food of all life, the basis of life, then you know they have entered a state of “insanity… lunacy”, or madness, that is entirely disconnected from reality and science.
“As Patrick Moore does in his book ‘Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom’, put this climate issue in its full long-term context in order to understand properly what is happening. Over the past millions of years, during our ice-age era, CO2 levels have been at historical lows, dangerous lows that have threatened life. Just 30,000 years ago CO2 dipped below 200 ppm, down to 185 ppm, perilously close to the death of all plant life at 150 ppm. Now CO2 has rebounded slightly to 400 plus ppm, still far short of healthier levels around 1000-1500 ppm where life thrives, as it did across past history.
“Even with the slight rise to 400 plus ppm, plant life on Earth has responded with a massive greening of the planet, adding green vegetation comparable to twice the size of the continental US over just the past 40 years. This ought to be celebrated. Why are Greens not celebrating?
“We all accept there was some warming over the past half-century (no denial of “climate change” or “global warming”) but it was small and beneficial during this abnormally cold ice-age era on Earth. And there is no sound evidence that rising CO2 will produce catastrophic warming because the role of CO2 is minor compared to other natural influences on climate (see comment in sections below on the logarithmic decline in the warming influence of CO2 with rising levels, e.g. atmospheric physicists Richard Lindzen, William Happer, and others. CO2 is a “bit player” and not the “control knob” of climate).
“The conclusion? There is no “climate crisis”, no need to fear rising CO2 levels, and no need to embrace the insanity of the “decarbonization” of our societies. The consequences of such policy responses have already been devastating to the poorest people with rising energy/electricity costs. So yes, the anti-CO2 movement is a ‘madness of crowds’ movement. It is a form of mass “insanity… lunacy”.
Note: The terms “insanity… lunacy” are directed more toward ideas and policy positions and not intended to belittle the persons involved with such things. But at the same time, we are all responsible for the ideas and policies that we embrace. We are responsible to fully understand the outcomes of such things; how they impact others. We should all hold one another accountable to understand the true state of things. Sometimes that requires “bracing” language.
Post from Bob Brinsmead on CO2 2021/04/11 (Bob’s post is a response to another member of our discussion group who voiced the false claim that CO2 was a pollutant)
“Human ingenuity has developed ways to burn fossil fuels for carbon-based energy without pollutants escaping into the atmosphere. We are part way there when it comes to the pollutants from internal combustion engines. The invention of catalytic converters in cars was a big step forward in reducing air pollution. To a large extent, this invention cleaned up most of the smog in Los Angeles. If technology can attach scrubbers to take out the pollutants from coal-fired power stations, why can’t the same thing in principle be done with cars?
“The CO2 emissions are not a problem to the health of the earth because CO2 is a pure plant food. It is not a plant food among many other plant foods, but the one essential plant food, the only source of a plant’s energy.
“Simplifying the principle, all living things (plants and animals) are made of carbon. Consequently, their food is carbon. All living things ingest carbon as their source of energy for growth and development. Plants get it from CO2 alone. Creatures get it from eating plants, if not by eating other creatures which eat the plants. All food (carbo-hydrates, fats and proteins) is a carbon based chemical which is laced with a few trace minerals and other micro-nutrients.
“What has to be changed in this whole debate about carbon is the narrative. The prevailing narrative is that CO2 emissions from human activity are detrimental to the planet and have to be reduced. This entire narrative is focused on the demonization of carbon emissions (mostly in the form of CO2, and to a lesser extent methane). The whole human culture has become obsessed with the fear of carbon emissions, and the conversation is dominated by talk about reducing those emissions. It is called de-carbonizing. Even those who are against this depressing, alarmist narrative get caught up in using the language of this narrative when they argue that gas or nuclear is a superior source of energy because it creates fewer or no emissions. If gas or nuclear energy are superior, it is not because they create fewer emissions.
“What we are on about is changing the above narrative to a better one which says that higher carbon emissions are beneficial to both plants and animals. It has to be clearly and repeatedly said that CO2 is the one irreplaceable and essential plant food. More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means a greener earth and more food. Here is a simple narrative, based on the known science of photosynthesis. More carbon dioxide emissions = more photosynthesis = more greening of the earth and more food.
“Who can’t understand that? This is the environmental gospel. It is the good news about greenhouse gases improving the environment by making this planet and climate more liveable. It is the good news about CO2 emissions enriching and stimulating the carbon cycle rather than impoverishing it. If one can understand that more circulation of the blood makes for a healthier body, or that more circulation of money makes for a stronger economy, one may understand that more circulation of carbon will make a more flourishing environment. Who can’t understand this upbeat narrative?
“The alarmist CO2 narrative is all bad news. It is utterly depressing stuff about how bad mankind is, how everything is going to hell in a handbasket, and how we must now decarbonize the economy and destroy human prosperity in the process. This whole narrative is misanthropic, it is depressing, it is based on false premises and it is supported by a massive web of fake news and wasted money. In this false narrative the language itself has become corrupted by calling pure gases like CO2 and water vapour “pollutants” and pollutants like wind turbines “clean.” In the language of the UN and its subsidiary Climate organization, any human impact on the climate is called “climate change” while any natural impact is called “natural variability,” so that with this fiddling of the language, climate change is only caused by human activity. Humanity is thereby damned as responsible no matter what the climate does.
“The alternative narrative is all about some very good news to set feet dancing and tongues singing. Far from being a pollutant, CO2 is the stuff that lavishes our tables every day with food and drink. CO2 is the lifeblood of the environment. The prospect for more of it is like the prospect of injecting more money into the economy for the benefit of everybody. Who does not want a greener earth with more food for all creatures great and small?
“These are the astounding benefits of more CO2 emissions.”
My response to Bob… “And if Patrick Moore is right re the sequestration of too much carbon in carbonaceous rocks (p. 44 of his book “Fake Invisible Catastrophes And Threats of Doom”) and hence the serious decline of atmospheric CO2 over the past 150 million years to life-threatening lows (one of nature’s dead-ends that Greg Easterbrook spoke of in “A Moment On The Earth”, due to random natural processes lacking intelligent mind), if Moore is right regarding the dangers of this “CO2 starvation era” then we are responsible to assist where we can to correct this and make sure that CO2 levels are returned to the healthy levels of past history- in the range of 1000-1500 ppm, when life really flourished. It may now be up to us to help regulate the CO2 or carbon cycles better than nature has done. Of course, this presupposes that we can get to some level of understanding natural processes much better than we do now. But Moore is right that our current contribution to CO2 levels has contributed to the present greening of our planet.
“Moore’s hypothesis: Humanity came along with industrial civilization and fossil fuels just in time to save life. Overturns the alarmist narrative entirely, doesn’t it.”
Climate alarmism continues to exhibit its true nature as a profoundly religious movement based on the most primitive of mythical themes- apocalyptic nonsense. Note how climate alarmists endlessly set ‘end-of-days’ dates just as apocalyptic prophets have done across past history. But before many wake up to the real nature of this madness movement, horrific damage will be done to our societies via rushed decarbonization policies.
Atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen, in a recent presentation, bemoaned the reality that scientific fact has not been effective in countering climate hysteria and its absurd narrative of looming climate disaster.
Climate scientist Roy Spencer has voiced the same frustration that scientific fact alone was not changing many minds.
Why the failure of good science to change alarmist minds? Because populations have been irresponsibly frightened by an apocalyptic narrative that the end is nigh and we are all gonna die. And that alarmist narrative resonates with the consciousness of most people who have long been attuned to apocalyptic as truth. We are the inheritors of millennia of such mythology/religious belief. Most people intuitively assume apocalyptic must be true because all the world religions still affirm it, and public story-telling forums like Hollywood relentlessly put out movies promoting this myth, and news media harp on it all day long.
The lunacy of apocalyptic is endlessly beaten into people’s minds.
Apocalyptic-scale fear mongering incites the survival impulse and that overwhelms rationality in populations, pushing them to embrace destructive salvation schemes like decarbonization. Decarbonization is the latest form of apocalyptic insanity gone lunatic as Earth has just started to enjoy the benefits of more basic plant food (CO2) and more warmth in a cold ice-age era. The current massive greening of our Earth is evidence of the benefit of more CO2. Both animal life and humanity are benefitting from more food. Humanity has been breaking crop production records in recent years and now produces 25% more food than we need, enough to feed 10 billion people.
But apocalyptic hysteria has always confused normally bright minds and pushed scared people to embrace crazy projects in order to save themselves and life from some purported looming disaster. Example: Bill Gates now funding the lunatic project to dim the sun in a cold world. Sheesh, eh.
Go to the root of this problem of alarmist hysteria and confront the fundamental mythical ideas that have long fed alarmism- i.e. the false narrative of apocalyptic that currently fuels climate alarmism. Apocalyptic is part of a larger narrative of old story themes. Offer people a better narrative that gets to the true state of things. Wendell Krossa
Note also the good report from Global Warming Policy Forum today on the profound disagreement between Prince Philip and his son Prince Charles over environmental issues.
Quotes from “How we fool ourselves”, by Judith Curry at https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/04/11/how-we-fool-ourselves-part-ii-scientific-consensus-building/
“The objective of scientific research is to find out what is really true, not just verify our biases. If a community of scientists has a diversity of perspectives and different biases, then the checks and balances in the scientific process including peer review will eventually counter the biases of individuals…
“Consensus is viewed as a proxy for truth in many discussions of science. A consensus formed by the independent and free deliberations of many is a strong indicator of truth. However, a consensus can only be trusted to the extent that individuals are free to disagree with it…
“Allen et al. (2020) demonstrate how dependence, pressure, and polarization can force a consensus, making reliance on consensus as an indicator of truth unreliable. As a result, a consensus can only be trusted to the extent that individuals are free to disagree with it, without repression or reprisal…
“The IPCC’s consensus-building process arguably promotes groupthink. ‘Groupthink’ is a pattern of thought characterized by self-deception, forced manufacture of consent, and conformity to group values. Janis (1972) describes eight symptoms of groupthink:
• illusion of invulnerability
• collective rationalization
• belief in inherent morality
• stereotyped views of out-groups
• direct pressure on dissenters
• illusion of unanimity
• self-appointed mind guards
“Many defenders of the IPCC consensus − both scientists and consensus entrepreneurs − show many if not all of these symptoms…
“The IPCC’s influence in climate science is pervasive, allowing it to largely ignore the usual scientific constraints on the acceptance of hypotheses. Professional success in climate science has become more tied to the acceptance of the IPCC’s pronouncements than with the exploration of contrary possibilities…”
Science and speculation, Wendell Krossa
Most of us are somewhat familiar with the theories of quantum physics, as far as the general public can understand such mystery. We share the fascination with the theoretical claims of multi-verse theories, quantum entanglement, black holes, string theory, dark energy/matter, and so on. But while we appreciate the effort of scientists to plumb such things, many of us feel some caution about the materialist assumption that these areas of reality will explain everything- that they will lead us to an overall theory of everything (TOE) that will bring human understanding of reality and life to some summit of finality. It appears that physicists are embracing a new reductionism in believing that their probing of the quantum realm will be the way to find ultimate and final answers to all things.
I side with the majority of people across history that have intuitively understood that the totality of reality is more than just something material. There is what has long been considered a “spiritual” element in the mix of reality. And many understand that the spiritual is more foundational than the material. The spiritual is the creating and sustaining reality behind the material realm. And today, with many uncomfortable with reference to spiritual reality as something by default “religious”, the preference is to refer to creating/sustaining reality with more correct and neutral terms like Consciousness, Mind, Intelligence and so on as alternatives to the term “God”. Consciousness replacing spirit. As a nonreligious person, I share this preference.
I would suggest that no theory of everything will ever be complete without the element of Consciousness as foundational to the mix (i.e. greater or Ultimate Consciousness as the foundational creating/sustaining reality). And I take this further- I would offer that the greater creating, sustaining Consciousness is most fundamentally love. Love of a stunningly inexpressible and wonderous “no conditions” nature (unconditional). This changes how we understand everything. I would offer that without this element in the mix of human understanding, understanding will always be incomplete and even dead-ended in philosophical materialist distortions.
I would offer love as my number one criterion for understanding reality- stunning no conditions love- as the ultimate reality behind all else. Take that and smoke it for a while. And that fills out my TOE (Theory of Everything). Unconditional love is the ultimate answer to the primal human impulse for meaning.
(Insert: In this “theological” mulling I recognize that the spiritual must be kept separate from science. Let science do what it does best in helping human understanding of material/physical reality. But then be careful of embracing the philosophical materialist claims that understanding material reality will explain all reality (TOE), including the ultimate meaning of all things. No. Science only takes us so far and then we rely on disciplines like philosophy and human spirituality to take us to the ultimate meaning and purpose of all things.)
From my “theoretical” position I therefore conclude that there is some over-riding purpose to this material realm and world, some purpose that has to do with love. There is some reason why love is our highest ideal and gives the most profound meaning to our stories, to human life. So include this in your project to understand TOE. Let the place of love in human existence unsettle narratives that are oriented almost solely to materialist reductionism.
I take insights, for example, from varied sources that suggest this realm was intentionally created with dualisms (good/bad, hate/love) that we might learn what love is, how to grow and develop in love. Joseph Campbell says something similar in his material- that the point of human story is to mature as human by orienting our lives to universal love. That is when we become the heroes of our story. I take such insights to conclude that this world was created as an experience and learning arena for people to come and live a story that is oriented to learning something of love- how to give and receive love. Love is the main purpose and point of our existence.
In many materialist minds, theoretical physics has become the sole route to ultimate understanding. But many others do not see it as the only road to a complete and final understanding of reality and life, especially not in its common form as shaped by materialist philosophy and assumptions, that lead too often to dogmatic materialist conclusions.
Further, just a caution on taking the theories that come out of physics too seriously as offering final truth about material reality. Theoretical physics also embraces a lot of mythical-like thinking on varied things (see, for example, Sabine Hossenfelder’s ‘Lost in Math’, or Jim Baggot’s ‘Farewell to Reality’ or ‘Mass: The quest to understand matter from Greek atoms to quantum fields’). Point? Theoretical physicists commonly cross the science/philosophy boundary (materialist “woowoo” in physics?). Just like the rest of us do in varied areas. But yes, crossing such boundaries is to engage something fundamentally human- that basic impulse for meaning and felt need for TOE of some kind, for completion and finality. Just recognize what you are doing when you do it (i.e. crossing a boundary).
Much of physics is still about a form of reductionism that hopes to explain all things in terms of something mainly material- i.e. vast arrays of subatomic particles (26 now??), fields and energies, or other features of nonvisible realms/dimensions. That is all helpful as far as it goes but does not fully deal with our most vital questions regarding meaning/purpose. Only love does that.
My theories/speculations above reject the assumption of materialism that all descends from the material and is explained mainly in terms of the material- i.e. the trajectory of the Big Bang producing the material cosmos, then galaxies/stars and worlds, to biology/life, to humanity with brains that produce conscious selves.
I take the position that a greater Consciousness/Mind pre-exists the material cosmos, creates the material cosmos, and then all else purposefully emerges over long-term stages of development as an eventual arena for conscious beings to experience life and learn from it. The material serves the Consciousness that purposefully creates it.
Our personal consciousness is part of that greater creating Consciousness that is love, thereby also making love the essential nature of the human self. This has to do with the “oneness” thing. Entanglement, if you will. And our personal consciousness is mediated through our brains in a relationship of close interaction (i.e. the material brain limiting our consciousness to five senses and four dimensions in order to experience life in this world). This is similar to John Eccles’ “dualist interactionism”. “Monism” is fine if it is understood that consciousness is fundamental in the monism, and it creates the material.
We ‘come into’ this material realm from our pre-existence to experience a personal story. See comment below on Joseph Campbell’s framework for human story.
Added note: Posts from discussion group…
“Yes, I do react to the dominance of philosophical materialism while also appreciating its contribution to human understanding. I am listening to Joe Rogan interviewing mathematician Eric Weinstein. Interesting to hear Weinstein offer his new TOE- Theory of Everything. Mind numbing complexity and too materialist in orientation.
“My comeback to him would be what is dismissed by hardcore materialists as “Woowoo” stuff. I reason from the primacy of love in defining our human being. Love is our highest ideal, the thing that is most important to most of us, the thing that makes us most human. And I embrace love in its widest meaning- all that all people do to make life better in some way, whether in agriculture, business, manufacture, retail, commerce, sports, music, entertainment and on and on. All contributing something to life and improving life.
“But I look at the general meaning of love, its primacy and I reason from that to the meaning of this cosmos and world and life. The end-product or outcome (conscious beings that love) does explain the reason/purpose for why it all exists. I do not accept meaningless randomness and that life and conscious humanity are accidental outcomes. Nonsense. And most of humanity across history agrees with such conclusions though so much mythical/religious explanation has been so off the mark in its barbarity and darkness (Old Story Themes).
“Hence, my TOE includes love as central to defining the meaning of it all, and I go to the highest form of love that we have discovered, the most common form of love- unconditional- that is expressed daily by parents, spouses, friends. That takes us to the meaning of all this cosmos, world, and life. Exclude that and you get lost in ultimately meaningless materialism nonsense. But sure, give em some credit for their reductionist exploration- telling us what this and that is made of and how it works (natural law). That is helpful as far as it goes. But it misses the most important things to most people across history.”
More posts from discussion group:
“In all things we recognize valued boundaries- the state and religion boundary, the science and philosophy/religion boundary, and so on. These are critical to healthy and safe society for all. But unfortunately, as Sabine Hossenfelder shows, boundaries are constantly crossed even in the most basic science of all, physics. Good to be aware of such and aware of the limits of any area of human endeavor and consequences of crossing boundaries, and so on. And don’t let the exaggeration of importance of one area (i.e. the materialist hope for physical science to explain all and solve all), don’t let that shut down other areas that have long been important to human existence for varied reasons. Just know the limits of any area of human exploration, and the reasons for limits, and so on that apply to all areas of human endeavor.
Post from a friend Noel…
“When you go down a set of stairs into the basement of a home, its dark but you can look at bare concrete, some wooden studs, electoral wiring, maybe some bricks and pipes etc. It’s not where you would want to live. Physicists are wandering around in the basement of the universe. I don’t think they will ever find a TOE there. I see God in a sunset, in a human smile and a thousand acts of love”. NM
My response to Noel:
“Yes, I am watching physicist Brian Greene do exactly this… taking the usual position of excessive hope in materialism, and the probing of the subatomic realm that is a kind of new reductionism… with the hope that we will find the final answers somewhere in physics, or the material universe. He speaks of all these subatomic elements as “what we really are”, the essence of us. So also mathematician Eric Weinstein the other day- that in the subatomic we will eventually understand something like love. Sheesh, the dominance of this materialist philosophy that denies what is dismissed as the “subjective”, called the “woowoo” stuff. No. That stuff is most real- our consciousness and what matters to that consciousness, things like beauty, love, and so on. That is what gets us to the real ultimate truth of things.”
“The points below on Old Story Themes have long been out there in general human worldviews and consciousness. Those ideas have already been critical to human speculation across history and much of that has been horrifically bad speculation (i.e. “bad religious ideas”). My response is that people are going to speculate on such things (i.e. spirituality), and we all do. At the very least, give people better alternatives for speculation. Just recognize where you are speculating and have your reasons for doing such. But none of us lives in a vacuum of not speculating because these things have to do with our greatest questions and our impulse for meaning.
“Science takes us only so far and then it is up to each of us to make our own conclusions about reality and life and the meaning of it all.
“And the impacts of all these ideas have been potent on human minds and life and societies. Look at history. Both good and bad impacts or outcomes.
“I am simply responding to something widespread across history as any study of mythology/religion will show. And I look at the impacts of bad ideas on people from those who research such things- whether psychotherapist Zenon Lofufo in ‘Cruel God, Kind God’, or Harold Ellens in his good material on similar stuff (“The destructive power of religion”), or Richard Landes and others on the history of apocalyptic millennial movements and their mass-death outcomes.
“So we can seek ways to deny all this, dismiss it, or deal with it as part of human problem solving, as part of improving the human condition.”